Agriculture and food industry. “The food sovereignty of France is at stake,” Brittany industrialists

“At the end of the 2022 trade negotiations, we hear expressions of satisfaction, proclaiming the “success” of the EGALIM 2 law, which would lead to an inflation of food prices of around 3% on average. But make no mistake, if everyone can welcome the initial ambitions of the law to increase the income of agricultural producers, the outcome of the trade negotiations appears to be a sham, which obscures the reality that agri-food companies have suffered in these negotiations.

The need for price increases in an inflationary context was +7% on average for agri-food companies. +3% approximately regarding the need for revaluation associated with the increase in agricultural raw materials. + about 4% in terms of increases in other inputs: at the end of 2021 we recorded for transport = +74%; for energy = + 38%; for plastic = + 24%; for cardboard = +21%; for aluminum = +26%, etc. In this context, the refusal of distributors to take into account justified and reasonable requests for price increases is unacceptable and dangerous.

If these business negotiations do not reactivate the logic of value creation for each article, the topic of the separation of the agri-agri sector and the survival of many of our Brittany agri-food companies will arise. “, he exclaimed Annie Saulnier CEO Geldélis, early February.
Slashing processors’ margins after 8 years of deflation only weakens our Brittany agri-agri sector. This destruction of value is suffocating many companies, especially SMEs, and immobilizing them in their development. All these elements limit the investment capacity, which is a fundamental issue for maintaining an excellent and sustainable industry, the guarantor of French food sovereignty.

On the form: unacceptable terms of negotiation with large sellers

The agri-food companies unanimously noted numerous dysfunctions:
– Required compensation, which implies a significant imbalance: in many cases, business plans have been revised downwards.
– Threats of sanctions from several brands, including threats of delisting, mostly despite long-standing business relationships.
– Lack of good faith and balance in setting automatic review clauses where distributors try to enforce their clauses or variation rates with very high indices.
– Brands that continue to send fines without providing proof of infringement or justification of damage, despite the provisions of the EGALIM 2 Law on this point.
It is a collective failure that repeats itself year after year. How long will we be able to collect? To what extent will company marketers continue to be subject to the methods and pressures of mass distribution?

This marathon of business negotiations is exhausting for everyone.t above all does not create value in the end, except for distribution (and falsely for the consumer encouraged to over-consumption at the expense of all agricultural/agro sectors)! Couldn’t we put that energy usefully into creating fair and shared value? It’s time for everyone to act responsibly.

The administration must be a partner of agri-food companies

In this chaotic context, Brittany’s agri-food companies are showing initiatives to adapt, innovate and continue to fulfill their mission to feed people. However, whether in the field of business relations (the 7th law in 13 years), as well as in environmental and human resources issues, companies systematically encounter administrative burdensomeness and slowness of procedures, especially when they demand the right to experiment with new solutions.

The implementation of Egalim 2 is a perfect example of the French taste for administrative over-complexity. Indeed, the implementation of this law is highly dependent on the agri-food sector and the IAA had to be dealt with in record time, resulting in significant costs for companies and excessive administrative work for legal and finance teams.

The costs of the auditor’s checks alone amount to EUR 100,000 for my company ” he emphasizes Olivier ClanchinPresident Triballat-Noyal and President ABEA.
Rather than face an administration that systematically maintains a position of control and sanctions, we call for a rediscovery of the bonds of trust and the logic of support. We would like the administration to be more considerate of our needs, closely support development, support our experimental designs and support our sector.

Emergency measures to support businesses now necessary

In order to support our weakened businesses and restart the virtuous cycle of value creation, so that France shines in the world and so that the food sovereignty of our country is not an empty word, we would like to propose today several measures that the state can immediately implement to support businesses:

1. For many companies the spike in gas and electricity costs represents an increase that cannot be absorbed or passed on.
➔ We demand the implementation of immediate extraordinary measures to support agri-food companies in the energy sector. The solution could be to set up an energy shield for businesses, like it is for homes.
➔ We demand that all investment projects in the field of renewable energies, blocked by individual attitudes far from the common good, be reopened

2 the annual periodicity of business meetings is inappropriate in this highly inflationary context and the movement we live by. It creates an unabsorbable gap between the experienced increases and the possibility to pass them on.
➔ We ask that each link in the food chain face its responsibilities and assume them, so that prices can be revised automatically during the year, in the logic of solidarity and sustainability of our food sector.

3. On December 2, 2021, at a meeting in Landerneau, Mr. Besson Moreau, deputy rapporteur of the Egalim 2 law, supported the demand of the British industrialists that the “right to make mistakes” should be introduced for this year so that honest mistakes are not penalized in a context where the law had to apply in a very short time frame and in unclear areas.
➔ We request that this “right to error” allows to avoid costly audits by auditors in this first year of Egalim 2.

4. We believe that experimentation is a relevant way to open the field of possibilities and guarantee the sustainability of our business. However, when we present specific proposals, such as our request to experiment with reuse in our factories from 2019, we run into the precautionary principle of the French state.
➔ We are asking for permission to experiment with reuse in our meat and milk processing plants in Brittany, like our European neighbours. More broadly, we seek the right to experiment in economic, human and environmental issues.

*Abea is an expert representative of the regional agricultural and food sector. The association has 200 member companies and workplaces or more than 50,000 employees in collective programs to support competitiveness and skills accelerators.

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